Baucus, Tester announce new transportation center at MSU

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Montana U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced Thursday the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University has been selected to lead a new national research center focused on improving rural transportation.

The new Small Urban and Rural Livability Center will be based in Bozeman at the Western Transportation Institute headquarters at MSU.

The center will conduct research, education and outreach activities on issues such as expanding public transportation, creating safe routes for bicyclists and pedestrians, improving access to regional transportation hubs and integrating modes of transportation.

The center, in partnership with the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University, will be a nationally designated University Transportation Center with a two-year, $4.2 million budget, which includes $2.8 million in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

More than 140 universities and research consortiums across the country applied for the program, with 35 centers being selected.

Baucus spearheaded the University Transportation Centers program and the new Small Urban and Rural Livability Center as a key author of the 2012 Highway Bill. “Montana is a highway state, and there’s a lot of dirt between stop signs in many of our small towns and rural communities.

This new center will help improve transportation in Montana’s rural communities, which will support our Main Street businesses in towns across rural Montana,” Baucus said in a press release.

Tester said people in rural America rely on safe transportation to do business, spend time with their families and travel to school or the doctor. “This center will foster innovation, and its research will help folks in Montana and nationwide provide efficient transportation that strengthens rural communities and saves money,” he said in the release.